Tuesday, April 22, 2008

RE: Cycling

I think most of us work with or at least know someone who bicycles to work most days. But that’s about it; we know ONE person and it ain’t us.
The last time I used a bicycle to commute was back in elementary school when I would bike the mile from my house to school. Lots of kids did that back when. These days, I only get on a bicycle occasionally. In fact, I don’t even own one of my own.
Thing is, I live close enough to work that I could easily cycle there if distance was the only consideration. But distance is far from the only consideration for me. Weather, the need to run midday errands, and (gasp!) having to get up 10 minutes earlier are all factors. But the biggest issue for me is having to share the road with motorists. I just don’t like the idea. It seems way too dangerous. I don’t like encountering bike riders when I’m driving and I’m sure it’s no fun for them either as each passing vehicle represents a potentially fatal encounter from wich they have virtually no protection.
I know some roads here (not many) have that narrow bike lane on the right shoulder. And that certainly is a help, but it’s still not good enough for me. There’s no separation from traffic except for a painted white line. Separate bike trails seem like a good idea to me, but the existing ones mostly go nowhere and are simply converted railroad beds that are wonderful for recreational use but are all that practical for meaningful transportation.
I realize this is not going to happen anytime soon, but it would be nice if we could incorporate separate, safe bicycle transportation routes as part of an overall urban design plan. I know, this is Springfield and there is no substantial or creative urban planning done here. Ask me how I know as I drive daily on narrow, unmarked country roads completely populated with subdivisions (portions of Koke Mill, Archer Elevator, Meadowbrook). Hah, and I would never cycle on some of those roads as they are now.
So, while I don’t expect anything to come of this anytime soon, I think if we are serious about energy conservation we need to look into things like making cycling a realistic option for those of us who aren’t cycling enthusiasts to begin with. This will take planning, time and money but I think it’s a good option well worth the investment. But I’m not holding my breath.

5 comments:

geek_guy said...

Last summer I rode my bike to work at least once a week, from Chatham. Now with the interurban trail closed, I would have to go up route 4, umm, no.

Anonymous Communist said...

I generally have no problem riding on the streets, going with traffic. Sure you could get hit and die, but if you thought about that, then you'd never go out. Just gotta sack up and ride.

What is it that you don't like about encountering people on bikes? I would think that most cyclists would understand that close proximity with cars is part of riding on the streets and therefore accept that cars will be passing by about 18 inches from them.

It bothers me that some drivers won't pass a cyclist unless the other lane is clear. Who's the one, then, that's impeding traffic?

Dave said...

AC,

I understand there are people like you who have no discomfort riding in traffic. I have no statistics but I would guess you are in a minority. My point isn’t to find fault, rather to come up with more practical solutions that would encourage bike riding. Whether fear of riding with vehicular traffic is rational or not, the fear is real (and I would say the danger is too) and should be addressed in a practical manner.

I don’t like coming up on cyclist because I fear hitting them and then it becomes not just their problem but mine. Also, sometimes cyclists do block the flow of traffic which is annoying as well. I understand and respect their right to use the roadways but I would still prefer better segregation.

Will said...

This is one of those issues that has wide public support in Springfield but it still never happens. The gap between what most people say they want in this town and what we get is monstrous.

jeff said...

Hi. Please join the Bicycle to Work! LinkedIn networking group. Members pledge that they will try to ride their bicycle to work or on an errand at least once a week. Although the benefits should be obvious, let me outline them here.
Right now people in the industrialized world are facing two very grave problems: obesity and a growing scarcity of oil. Compounding this problem is the new food shortage brought about, in part, by the conversion of food cropland to bio-fuel crop production. Most people feel powerless to help, but there is one thing that we can do. Ride our bicycles to work.
If everyone would agree to ride their bikes to work one day per week we could cut oil consumption by as much as 10-15%. No one would argue that riding a bike burns more calories than driving the car. Although popular politically right now, most bio-fuels consume more energy than they produce. We would be much better to eat those bio-crops then use our own energy to transport us around.
So spread the word. Make it a movement! Bicycle to work one day a week and do your part to cut back obesity and the overuse of oil and precious cropland.
Just go to my profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreylstevenson and you can click on the group to be included. While you are there, don't forget to ask to link to my network of more than 7,000.000 like-minded professionals. I accept all invitations and look forward to meeting you.
Jeff